Every four years the finest track and field athletes descend on the Olympics; as any television highlights package will attest, the moments of sporting ingenuity that they supply tend to be the memories that last the longest.
The Rio Games look set to be no exception, with Olympic veterans doing battle with world champions and the latest young starlets off the production line. The track and field events will no doubt form the basis of many punters’ activities, so here’s a guide to some of the very best bets available at Rio 2016.
Some of the most keenly fought battles will be those facing the Jamaican great, Usain Bolt, as he embarks on his quest for sprinting’s triple crown. The reigning world champion has been installed as the bookmakers’ favourite for the 100m, 200m and, as part of the Jamaica team, the 4x100m relay gold.
Yet, there are plenty of rivals snapping at his illustrious heels. Justin Gatlin has recorded two of the fastest 100m times this year, as recently as July to boot. He was a mere 0.01 seconds behind Bolt at the World Championships in 2015 and clearly such small margins dictate just how close the pair are in terms of ability.
With the current world record setter said to be recovering from a hamstring strain, this could be Gatlin’s best opportunity yet to dethrone the sprint king. At 7/4 with NetBet, he has to be worthy of investment ahead of their 14th August encounter.
Given that she competed in the heptathlon at the London Games in 2012, it is a mark of Dafne Schippers’ natural propensity for sprinting that she can now rightfully call herself the third fastest woman of all time.
The Dutch dynamo has recorded four of the six fastest 200m times this season and while she will have the added pressure of trying to attain the sprint double with her place in the starting blocks for the 100m assured, it is this longer stretch that appears to be punters’ best hope of glory.
Priced at 1/2 with NetBet, it would take a monumental performance from one of her rivals to deprive Schippers of her golden moment in Rio on 17th August.
If you cast your mind back to London 2012, you may just somewhere in the corner of your memory remember the astonishing performance of David Rudisha in claiming 800m gold. He smashed the world record and became the first man to run under 1:41 in the process.
To highlight the Kenyan’s achievement further, Andrew Osagie, who finished last, would have won gold at any other Games if he had ran the time that he did in the capital. He won the World Championship gold in 2015 and has recorded the fastest 800m time this year; NetBet have him pegged at 11/10.
One of the most competitive events at Rio will surely be the women’s heptathlon, which will feature three entrants who each will fancy their chances of taking home the gold. Jessica Ennis-Hill, so impressive in landing the big prize in 2012, had a year away from the sport after giving birth to her first child and she returned with a bang at the World Championships in 2015 where she claimed her second world title.
Her lack of form in 2016, compounded by an Achilles injury, will be something of a concern for her supporters. One of the most eye-catching events in the heptathlon calendar is the meeting held at Götzis, Austria in June. This is usually a fine precursor for subsequent glory; in 2016 it was dominated by the Canadian, Brianne Theisen-Eaton.
She had taken silver at the Worlds a year earlier and is clearly a huge contender for honours in Brazil. But there’s a second Brit who is starting to cash in on her undoubted potential. Katarina Johnson-Thompson was chasing Ennis-Hill hard in second at the Worlds in 2015, but three fouls in the long jump cost her a medal place.
It was also the leaping contest that impacted upon her showing at Götzis, so if the European Indoor champion can improve in the sand then she could well contend. But it is Ennis-Hill, at 6/4, who holds most of the betting appeal. For all the best bets in athletics at Rio 2016, visit NetBet today.